Letter To My MP: Britain’s Invisible Kids

Dear Neil
I read this today and would appreciate you reading and passing it onto anyone within the education department who is interested in trying to understand the difficulties so many children, including my own, face at school. As you know we have been almost destroyed by our experiences within the education system. There is little or no accountability for that and to date no therapeutic input or understanding from professionals. I appreciate that you tried to intervene on their behalf but still the boys schools refused to help them!

On a personal and family level we have been devastated by this. All my children needed was an acceptance by schools of their diagnosed needs, some relatively small reasonable adjustments and some kindness.

On a financial level the implications for the Local Authority are huge. Each of my three boys now need an EHCP for them to be able to access education. That provision could now cost hundreds of thousands! L. and B. have both needed long term medical needs tuition. L. would qualify too but I had to deregister him for the sake of his health and a refusal of schools to admit there was anything wrong! He is diagnosed with school trauma.

As a wider financial issue I have not been able to work so no longer have a work pension. The boys are so debilitated I am claiming DLA for two. Then there are the costs of extra medical appointments just to get their absences authorised and health care for deteriorating health for all of us! And of course the costs of the ridiculous social services referrals and investigations which brought zero extra support and caused stress and reduced access to Health care! All for the sake of three schools saying my children were ‘fine in school’ when they weren’t and all three schools refusing to follow government policies for SEND and children with medical needs.

As you may know the Children’s Commissioner spent a day with us at home trying to understand our situation for her new report into forced home education and off rolling. No schools are named but you will see my boys and I explaining how hard things are for us. I chose to tell our story in the hope that other children and families will get the support and early intervention. I am nervous that we will be used to further the government agenda, especially regarding home education monitoring but I am cautiously optimistic that someone somewhere in a position of power will hear ours and others stories and do something. The Children’s Commissioner commissioned this Dispatches documentary which will air next Monday.

The Education system causes harm to too many children. It is a harsh and Increasingly inflexible institution – meeting the needs of fewer and fewer children. It is ridiculous for the government to panic about the rise in home education and then look to increase monitoring of the home educating parents who devote their lives to their children’s well being and education. These are loving parents who have seen the state of the British education system and chosen not to opt in, and others who have fled the education system for the sake of their children’s education! Instead the government should be asking why we are leaving in droves.

My biggest regret is that I worked so hard to keep my boys within the system, the hours and hours of meetings and appointments, putting so much effort into getting them to places that hurt them. Even Nick Gibb admitted they have been let down by education. He recommended we apply for EHCPs and personal budgets…. Our Local Authority don’t issue personal budgets! I look back now and wish I had been brave enough to remove them sooner.

It is 2019. We have a changing way of working. There is technology, flexible work patterns, working remotely within the workforce and yet our schools are more rigid in their curriculum, timetables and rules than ever. Employees are protected by legislation for illness, disabilities and bullying. Children are not. The legislation exists but there is no accountability. Children are being let down and it’s a national disgrace. Instead of merely increasing funding for mental health in schools and increasing the number of special schools, and instigating an unnecessary new system of home education monitoring please, please invest in education and listen to the experts in child development and education. Value all educators at home or at school and most of all please listen to our children and listen to parents.

Thank you

Louise Engels